The Mental Discrimination

A couple of weeks ago I started to read again Edith Sodergran’s Poems. Her first collection is published in 1916. I found that she was concerned about her own place in the human society. It is no secret that she felt herself as an outsider. Perhaps in those days it was a bigger loss than it is today. At least she would have liked to be inside instead of being left outside of the common circles. That’s why her verses are often quite touching descriptions of mental discrimination. She differed from the main stream in many ways, and that’s something which is not looked with approval.

She was interested in the existentialism and applied these ideas in her poetry. Her Christianity has some mystic edge which was a strange in Finland where the Lutheran Church is the state church. Edith lived in Karelian where the Orthodox Church has a foothold. That denomination looks Christianity from their point of view having a rich spiritual iconolatry. Södergran went to school in St Petersburg which wasn’t exceptional in that time because Finland was a part of Russian. If she had written in Russian there wouldn’t have been so much astonishment but her mother tongue was Swedish. In 1917 Finland became an independent state and dissociated itself from Russian culture.

When the situation was like this it wasn’t a miracle that she felt being left outside this world but this wasn’t enough. Edith Södergran was stricken with tuberculosis. She spent last years of her life in Raivola with her mother having only few contacts outside her home. On the other hand her poetry wouldn’t be so exceptional if she wasn’t being isolated. Many art critics have said that it would be mistake to dramatize Edith’s life but I see that her loneliness hasn’t yet even discovered as it isn’t realized how cruel this world treats those not in common. In this connection I am not able to analyze the motives of mental discrimination as it would make this article too long and tangled but now speak those who suffer.

One of the poems where Edith told us how she lives in isolation is called Me, Jag, in Swedish. I will explain some lines in English to you. I can’t use the official translation because it is not 75 years old. You can also use the translator. Here’s the way the poem goes in Swedish:

Jag

Jag är främmande i detta land (1)
som ligger djupt under det tryckande havet, (2)
solen blickar in med ringlande strålar (3)
och luften flyter mellan mina händer. (4)
Man sade mig att jag är född i fångenskap – (5)
här är intet ansikte som vore mig bekant. (6)
Var jag en sten, den man kastat hit på bottnen? (7)
Var jag en frukt, som var för tung sin gren? (8)
Här ligger jag på lur vid det susande trädets fot, (9)
hur skall jag komma upp för de hala stammarna? (10)
Däruppe mötas de raglande kronorna, (11)
där vill jag sitta och speja ut (12)
efter röken ur mitt hemlands skorstenar … (13)

Edit Södergran

At the beginning of the poem she told that she doesn’t feel at home where she is isolated to (1-2) and she senses that life is going down the drain. (4) In brief she is in the middle of the huge pain. She asks if she was a good-for-nothing, like a stone, which was thrown into the bottom of the ocean (7) or was she too superior, a fruit which was too heavy for its own bough. (8) She doesn’t blame anyone but hopes that one day she could look out from the top of the tree how the pillars of smokes coming out of chimneys. (11-13)

Accidentally I wrote 9/5 -14 a poem which deals with this mental discrimination. There I found one motive for the discrimination. Human beings must be productive. When you come up to expectations in this sense you are allowed to even have some liberties.

Freedom there is anyhow

In the commercial forest
is no room for elm, no willow.
Freedom there is anyhow
to put a ring to your nose
and tear up new jeans
if you only happen to be
the fine pine tree.
©Yelling Rosa
9/5 -14

About Yelling Rosa

I desing home pages. In my spare time I read, write, play the guitar and hike. I have published three verse books in Finnish and recorded my songs. You can listen to them on YouTube. I have translated some of my poems on Yelling Rosa's Weblog. I also like to watch movies. Olen kiinnostunut lukemisesta, kirjoittamisesta, kitaransoitosta ja luonnossa vaeltamisesta. Olen julkaissut kolme runokirjaa ja laulujani on äänitteillä. Voit lukea runojani Yelling Rosan kotisivuilta ja kuunnella laulujani YouTubessa. Olen elokuvafriikki.
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24 Responses to The Mental Discrimination

  1. Have not read any of her work, but will do so now. I am rereading Sara Teasdale.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ginene Nagel says:

    Thank you for telling me about Edith Södergran whom I was not familiar. I enjoyed both poems very much. Wonderful imagery.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. She sounds like a very interesting woman. Thanks for an interesting article.

    Like

  4. maskednative says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog and your ‘like’ for my post ‘Cynefin’. I found your post about Edith Sodergran very interesting, I hadn’t heard of her before. The search for our place in the world would seem not so uncommon, and yet, we are already at home in ourselves.

    Like

  5. shirimcherie says:

    “…if you only happen to be
    the fine pine tree.” – Wonderful!

    Like

  6. newwhitebear says:

    I did not know this author. By reading your post I filled this gap.
    Greetings

    Like

  7. gageier says:

    Sei ganz lieb gegrüßt und ein schönes Wochenende das wünsche ich dir Klaus aus Köln

    Like

  8. Reminds of reclusive Emily Dickinson. What is also remarkable about her in my estimation is how can a person so encapsulated have such a universal and global insight characterized in the poems.

    Like

    • Yelling Rosa says:

      Thank you Carl for your comment. I agree with you. They are phenomenal persons. I like to wish you a nice and rewarding summer now as I am going to have a summer break from blogging. I hope we’ll meet again in autumn🙂

      Like

  9. Miia says:

    Her poems are very powerful.

    Like

  10. Cteavin says:

    Your commentary has helped open up something new to me. Thank you.🙂

    Like

    • Yelling Rosa says:

      You’re welcome. Take care🙂

      PS You’ll find my poems also at http://www.yellingrosa.com/poems01.htm

      Like

      • Cteavin says:

        Oh, I can’t like it so it shows up in my reader. Is that an independent page?

        You know, before I joined WordPress I thought poetry was dead. I have been delighted, provoked, inspired by writings people share here. I’ll be sure to read through some of your work.

        Cheers🙂

        Like

      • Yelling Rosa says:

        Thank you for the comment.

        Yes, it is one page on my domain, yellingrosa.com. I mentioned it here just for you to visit, if you wish. You can’t add it to your WordPress –likes, but my Yelling Rosa in English –page can be Facebook- or GooglePlus liked.

        Don’t worry because poetry won’t die as long as humans have thoughts in their minds.
        Yes let’s keep in touch in the future as well.

        Bye for now🙂

        Like

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